A comprehensive study of more than 5,500 women in the US has resulted in some startling discoveries about hair loss in African American women.
The Black Women’s Health Study at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center and dermatologist Dr Yolanda M. Lenzy, FAAD, a clinical associate at America’s University of Connecticut, joined forces to conduct a study whereby African-American women were surveyed about their hair loss experiences.
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia
What is perhaps most surprising about the findings, is that the number one cause of hair loss in this specific group is not Traction Alopecia as may have been suspected, but Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA), which is caused by inflammation which leads to scarring on the scalp. Scar tissue typically equates to the permanent loss of functioning hair follicles.
According to new data that was presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual meeting in Washington DC in early March 2016, a total of 47.6 per cent of respondents reported hair loss around their crown or at the top of their scalp. Following assessment Dr Lenzy believes that, although Female Pattern Hair Loss is likely to play a part in at least some of these cases, the majority fit more accurately with a diagnosis of CCCA. Startlingly, however, 81.4 per cent of these had never sought professional help to combat this.
According to media information released by the AAD, whilst hair loss is common among American-American women – generally due to afro hair naturally being more brittle and the ways in which is it traditionally treated in terms of styling – Dr. Lenzy says, ‘this problem often goes undiagnosed because patients don’t know they should visit a dermatologist for evaluation’.
Despite 40.9 per cent of women who completed the survey fitting the diagnostic criteria for CCCA, the report advises that only 8.8 per cent had been professionally diagnosed with the condition.
CCCA and Traction Alopecia
Believed by many to be linked to, or synonymous with Follicular Degeneration Syndrome, CCCA is also known as Hot Comb Alopecia as it was originally linked to oils applied to the hair that were then heated with a hot comb, though it was later proved that this wasn’t the cause in every case. It can be prevalent in families so a genetic link is presumed.
CCCA can arise as a result of chemical treatments gone bad. For women with afro hair, this most often arises after repeated or problematic chemical straightening – explaining, perhaps, a growing trend for black women to opt for wearing their hair in untreated, natural styles. Having natural hair is also one of the easiest ways to avoid hair loss, from Traction Alopecia in particular.
CCCA is also often seen occurring as a secondary condition alongside advanced cases of Traction Alopecia which is frequently treated by hair loss specialists. It is most commonly seen in black women due to the nature of afro hair and the more prevalent tendency among women of colour to frequently employ the kind of hairstyles it is associated with.
These are all styles that pull the hair and put strain on the follicles, such as tight braids, cornrows, and also hair extensions or weaves. This does, therefore, make Traction Alopecia ‘self-inflicted’ which distinguishes it from all other hair loss conditions which are brought on by genes, stress, illness and other inevitable factors.
Treating women’s hair loss
Most hair loss conditions including Traction Alopecia, can be treated, however in cases where scarring of the scalp is involved, such as full-blown Cicatricial Alopecia, this not possible. If the hair loss is caught very early on before the scarring has set in, it may be possible to reverse some of the damage.
The most important step is recognising the that there is a problem and changing the offending hairstyle as well as stopping any chemical cosmetic treatments immediately so that no further stress is placed on the scalp. Next, it is important to visit a hair loss specialist nurse as soon as possible if you want to take proactive action in these cases.
Despite common myths to the contrary, clinically-proven hair loss treatments work well in both men and women of all races and on all hair types, including afro hair as Belgravia’s Afro Hair Loss Treatment Success Stories gallery will attest.
Although it can be tough to deal with, Belgravia’s treatment for Follicular Degenerative Syndrome has often produced successful regrowth results for clients when treated as a standalone condition or alongside Traction Alopecia.
Personalised treatment plans for both conditions feature a bespoke selection of high strength minoxidil formulations available from our Central London clinics (that can be posted out to our clients based outside London or who live abroad), which are tailored to each client’s needs along with a range of hair growth boosters. As long as the medication is applied directly to the scalp as directed in the correct daily dosage, and the styling issues that caused the problem are avoided, it is often possible to see encouraging progress.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.